Posts Tagged ‘sex discrimination’

California: “Lawyer, wife convicted in extortion plot against businesses”

“A California attorney and his wife were convicted of engaging in a scheme to extort minority, immigrant-owned businesses.” [Associated Press] “[Rogelio] Morales and [Mireya] Arias engaged in a scheme in 2016 to file ‘meritless gender discrimination lawsuits to pressure minority business owners into giving them thousands of dollars in alleged “settlements,”‘ a prosecution trial brief said. Prosecutors said Morales and Arias would obtain services from the small businesses they targeted — salons or dry cleaners — and if they were charged differently for the same service, they would file a lawsuit claiming a violation of a California anti-discrimination law, prosecutors said.” [Richard K. De Atley, Press-Enterprise (Riverside, Calif.)]

“For obvious reasons, few will talk openly about the issue.”

Stepped-up litigation and reputational risks from charges of sexual misbehavior are changing employer policies in predictable ways:

Privately, though, many of the men interviewed acknowledged they’re channeling Pence, saying how uneasy they are about being alone with female colleagues, particularly youthful or attractive ones, fearful of the rumor mill or of, as one put it, the potential liability.

A manager in infrastructure investing said he won’t meet with female employees in rooms without windows anymore; he also keeps his distance in elevators. A late-40-something in private equity said he has a new rule, established on the advice of his wife, an attorney: no business dinner with a woman 35 or younger.

“If men avoid working or traveling with women alone, or stop mentoring women for fear of being accused of sexual harassment,” he said, “those men are going to back out of a sexual harassment complaint and right into a sex discrimination complaint.”

[Gillian Tan and Katia Porzecanski, Bloomberg quoting Stephen Zweig, an employment attorney with FordHarrison.] For an earlier round of these issues, see this 2015 post.

October 31 roundup

  • Attempts to ban digital contraband are often fated to be both intrusive and futile [J.D. Tuccille]
  • “The Gender Pay Gap: Why We Fight The Narrative” [Ryan Bourne, Cato]
  • “He’s Back! Steven Wise’s Nonhuman Rights Project Seeks Habeas Corpus For An Elephant” [Ted Folkman, Letters Blogatory, Wise’s previous go and generally]
  • Regulatory battles between hotel industry and AirBnB spread across U.S. [Robert McCartney, Washington Post]
  • Concept of international human rights “has been swept into a broad river of campaigns for social justice, global economic development, environmental protection, multiculturalism, tolerance, access to water and sanitation, and more” and diluted in the process [James Kirchick, Commentary on new Aaron Rhodes book The Debasement of Human Rights: How Politics Sabotage the Ideal of Freedom; Cato forum from May with Rhodes, Kirchick, Roger Pilon, and Ian Vasquez; Rhodes interview with John Couretas and Caroline Roberts, Acton Institute]
  • “Pro-tip from the Third Circuit for attorneys requesting fees: Don’t have a single-spaced, 6- to 8-point font, 44-page fee petition including ‘hundreds of inappropriate, unethical entries that would likely be illegal if billed to a client.’ You might find yourself facing no fees, a sanction, and a referral to the attorney disciplinary board.” [John K. Ross, IJ Short Circuit, on Young v. Smith]

Sweden advertising ombudsman: “Distracted Boyfriend Meme” is sexist

Sweden’s advertising ombudsman has ruled the much-shared “Distracted Boyfriend Meme” improperly presents women as “sex objects” and is “a stereotypical picture of men seeing women as interchangeable”. While the industry panel itself has no power to impose a legal ban, its views might prove consequential since the Stockholm city council has enacted a ban on sexist billboards in public spaces. [Catherine Edwards, The Local]

Discrimination law roundup

  • Women-only co-working space in Washington, D.C. is packed with amenities. But is it legal? [Ally Schweitzer, WAMU]
  • Hurry up and cert: Ninth Circuit en banc rules that use of past salary history violates federal Equal Pay Act [Reuters/KFGO; Marcia McCormick, Workplace Prof]
  • Justice Ruth Ginsburg talks down idea of passing new laws in response to #MeToo harassment scandals: “We have the legal reforms — we have had them for a long time….The laws are there and the laws are in place; it takes people to step forward and use them.” [Jeffrey Rosen interview, The Atlantic]
  • “No Fingerprinting as a Religious Accommodation? Yes, Says Court” [Daniel Schwartz]
  • “Equal Pay Day Should Be in January” [Vanessa Brown Calder, Cato] “Mythbusting Paid Leave Statistics” [same] “Women who have their first child before 25 or after 35 eventually close the salary divide with their husbands,” but new moms between 25-35 don’t [Claire Cain Miller, New York Times] “When factors such as experience, industry and job level were taken into account, women earn 97.8 cents for every dollar earned by their male peers for doing the same work.” [Stephen Miller, SHRM] More: Tyler Cowen;
  • “A waiter was fired for being combative, aggressive and something of a bully. His defense? He’s not rude. He’s French and his former bosses are discriminating against his culture and heritage.” [Laura M. Holson, New York Times via Twitter]

“California Bill Would Mandate Gender Quotas For Publicly Traded Companies”

“Earlier this month, California Senators Hannah-Beth Jackson and Toni G. Atkins introduced a bill, SB 826, that would require a publicly held corporation with its principal places of business in California to have a minimum number of women directors.” [Keith Paul Bishop, Cal Corporate Law, via Prof. Bainbridge, who asks: “How is this constitutional?”]

January 3 roundup

  • California attorney known for suing bars over “ladies’ nights” sues comedian Iliza Shlesinger over “Girls Night In” show [Gene Maddaus, Variety]
  • “Jury Rejects Damages for Victims of SWAT Raid Based on Wet Tea Leaves Cops Said Was Pot” [Jacob Sullum, Radley Balko, earlier here, here, and here]
  • Before calling Star-Spangled Banner “ode to slavery,” newly inaugurated St. Paul mayor should have read my NR piece [Tad Vezner, Pioneer Press]
  • From Prof. Stephen Presser, ideas on reforming legal education [Law and Liberty]
  • Why administration’s appellate nominations tend to be all-of-a-piece while district court nominations are more a mixed bag [Jonathan Adler]
  • Some policy questions about last month’s Amtrak 501 wreck outside Seattle [Randal O’Toole, Cato and more]

Labor and employment roundup

  • Spotted in Senate tax bill: what sounds like an excellent proposal to cut off worker-classification lawsuits [Shu-Yi Oei and Diane M. Ring (who take a very different view of the provision) via Caron/TaxProf]
  • Federalist Society convention video on future of federal workplace agencies with Alex Acosta and Nicholas Geale of DoL, Victoria Lipnic of EEOC, Philip Miscimarra of NLRB;
  • “‘Mistake’ in Pennsylvania homecare contract would have helped unions in fight over healthcare workers” [Sean Higgins, Washington Examiner; Cato podcast with David Osborne and Caleb O. Brown]
  • Automatically worth reading, Claudia Goldin on gender pay gap [New York Times]
  • Public sector unions rule in California politics, and pension-spiking is just one of the results [Steven Greenhut] “California Union Bill Looks to Ban Outsourcing Public Services” [same]
  • New report from Dana Berliner, Clark Neily al., “Occupational Licensing Run Wild” [Federalist Society Regulatory Transparency Project]

Ellen Pao and the tech diversity sector

The Silicon Valley figure, known for an unsuccessful sex discrimination suit against Kleiner Perkins, basks in largely favorable press as well as the praise of figures like Hillary Clinton and Sheryl Sandburg. Naomi Schaefer Riley, however, takes a contrary view [Commentary, I’m quoted] Even as Pao writes pieces in the popular press encouraging techies to turn their discontents into legal claims against their employers, she urges the services of her Project Include on the same employers:

Much of the evidence suggests that sensitivity training does little good. And in some cases, talking to employees about negative stereotyping of women or racial minorities might actually spur employees to think negatively about their colleagues in ways they hadn’t considered before.

Which brings us back to the threat of litigation. Thanks to Pao’s case, companies are not only quivering over multimillion-dollar lawsuits, they are also considering ways to mitigate the possibility. And that means working with people like Pao to provide cover. While they may not be able to, or even care to, control the behavior of individual employees, they’d at least like to avoid the accusation of a “hostile workplace,” which could cost considerably more in court. Working with Pao and her colleagues won’t automatically ensure that lawsuits against them get thrown out, but signing on to Project Include will go a long way toward protecting them.

EEOC: “gentleman’s club” broke law by refusing to hire male barkeep

The EEOC’s 1997 dispute with the Hooters breastaurant chain over its failure to hire male Hooters Girls is among the most glorious in its history [see coverage here and here]. Now the Commission seems eager to bring back old times: it has filed a lawsuit charging that Sammy’s Gentlemen’s Club of Fort Walton Beach, Fla., violated sex discrimination law by turning away a qualified male applicant for a bartending job. “Sammy’s subsequently hired at least two females for bartending positions at that location. According to the suit, during 2015 Sammy’s employed 17 females and no males in bartender positions” at the location. [EEOC press release]